The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment

Paperback | February 24, 2005

byFranklin E. Zimring

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Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved? In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly insoluble turmoil surrounding the death penalty reflects a deep and long-standing division in American values, a division that he predicts will soon bring about the end of capital punishment in ourcountry. On the one hand, execution would seem to violate our nation's highest legal principles of fairness and due process. It sets us increasingly apart from our allies and indeed is regarded by European nations as a barbaric and particularly egregious form of American exceptionalism. On theother hand, the death penalty represents a deeply held American belief in violent social justice that sees the hangman as an agent of local control and safeguard of community values. Zimring uncovers the most troubling symptom of this attraction to vigilante justice in the lynch mob. He shows thatthe great majority of executions in recent decades have occurred in precisely those Southern states where lynchings were most common a hundred years ago. It is this legacy, Zimring suggests, that constitutes both the distinctive appeal of the death penalty in the United States and one of the mostcompelling reasons for abolishing it. Impeccably researched and engagingly written, Contradictions in American Capital Punishment casts a clear new light on America's long and troubled embrace of the death penalty.

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Why does the United States continue to employ the death penalty when fifty other developed democracies have abolished it? Why does capital punishment become more problematic each year? How can the death penalty conflict be resolved? In The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment, Frank Zimring reveals that the seemingly in...

Franklin E. Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Chair of the Criminal Justice Research Program at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the author of Crime Is Not the Problem and American Youth Violence.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 6.1 × 9.02 × 0.71 inPublished:February 24, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195178203

ISBN - 13:9780195178203

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"Frank Zimring's new book makes a major contribution to understanding the present situation of the death penalty in the United States and to predicting what lies ahead. Central to his analysis is his judgment that a 'fundamental value conflict' lies at the root of the struggle: Will America'sfrontier 'vigilante values' that support our death penalty practices survive their collision with our attachment to 'due process' values? Written in his characteristically lively style, this provocative and completely original work has much to teach both defenders and opponents of capitalpunishment."--Hugo Adam Bedau, author of The Death Penalty in America